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Erin Battat

Erin Battat

Visiting Lecturer in the Writing Program

Erin Battat’s research and teaching explores the relationship between art, literature, migration, and social change.

Erin Battat received her Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization (American Studies) from Harvard University. She has also taught in Harvard’s History & Literature program and at Penn State Harrisburg. Her book, Ain’t Got No Home: America’s Great Migrations and the Making of an Interracial Left (UNC 2014), examines how writers, artists, and activists used stories of migration and itinerancy to fight for economic and racial justice amidst the capitalist collapse of the 1930s. Her research has been supported by the Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and the Association of American University Women.

Dr. Battat was drawn to the Freedom Project as a scholar of human migration as a quest for economic, political, and social freedom, and as a scholar of protest literature as a means of promoting debate, pluralism, and social change. Through support from the Freedom Project, she has developed a new first-year writing course that examines the tensions between America’s promise of freedom as a “nation of immigrants,” and its history of slavery, colonization, nativism, and immigration restriction. 

In addition to developing a new course, Dr. Battat has connected with undergraduate Adam Smith fellows and the Freedom Project’s visiting scholars to promote conversations about literature, political repression, and resistance. For example, she helps to advise Adam Smith fellows working on independent projects on the role of literature and propaganda in supporting or resisting repressive political regimes. In the spring of 2018, Dr. Battat will lead a seminar with the Adam Smith fellows on digital storytelling the contemporary movement for immigrant rights. The Freedom Project’s visiting scholars regularly visit her classes to share their views on protest literature, immigration narratives, and propaganda as both vehicles for and deterrents to freedom in our world.